"Fruit, like beauty, is fleeting."

June 4th, 2008 10:23 pm by Kelly Garbato

All I know is that, when I went out into the chicken yards early yesterday morning, I actually staggered, made drunk by the intensity of a floral scent that filled up all of the air in my head, sending my brain into paroxysms of surprised delight. Can you imagine: A chicken yard that smells like a perfume factory? Even though it happens every year, I kept looking around for the source of the scent, almost unable to believe that I could be lucky enough to experience something like this accidentally.

Maybe that was nature’s way of bracing me for what was coming. My favorite bird had died the day before and I had to face the first morning of doing my chores accompanied by her absence. […]

“Broiler” hens are like wild blooms, having a ragged beauty that you sometimes must look closely to perceive and always living less long than you would like. Bred by the poultry industry to have heavy flesh that burdens their organs and stresses their skeletons, they often perish abruptly due to heart attacks, heatstroke, or the enigmatic cause of sudden death known as “flip over syndrome.” The metabolic acceleration that allows the industry to “grow” birds to slaughter weight in only six to eight weeks continues throughout their lives. […]

The New Mosselle was older than two, a great achievement for a “broiler” hen. At first, she had no way of knowing I had a special affection for her, as I tend to dote on all of the “broiler” chickens (by, for example, bringing treats right to them so that they won’t have to compete with with the faster birds). But as she got older, I started whispering, “you’re my favorite” whenever she happened to be close by. On what I had no idea would be her last day, I told her that first thing in the morning and again when I happened to pass her resting by a water bowl at midday. A couple of hours later, when I went out to put straw in the coops, I saw her sleeping in the shade and then looked more closely and realized she was dead. I howled.

That was Monday. Today is Wednesday. My favorite hen is buried with some blueberries and a sprig of honeysuckle underneath the plantain she and her friends so loved to munch. Right up the road, thousands of birds like her are choking in crowded sheds. They will never smell honeysuckle or taste a blueberry.

Go read the whole damn beautiful thing.

And, if you can, consider sending some money pattrice’s way. She cares for hundreds of discarded “food” animals at the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary, dontchaknow.

(Crossposted to.)

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